Vacation Days

Earlier in the morning my grandson was able to shoot his first turkey, which was the main goal of this hunt. Especially since the Utah youth turkey hunt hadn’t worked out as well as we had hoped. And now we had the evening to try again before heading home in time for work/school on Monday morning.

Back at camp we processed Daxton’s bird, ate lunch and broke down camp so that we could get on the road as soon we finished our afternoon pursuit. Around 2:00 p.m. we left camp to hunt for the rest of the day. Big storm clouds were building so we knew we were going to get hit with rain, we just hoped that it wouldn’t sock in for long. We set up our blind a couple of miles to the north of where we hunted earlier. After about an hour the wind started to howl and the rain began to pound us. We did our best to get comfortable in order to wait out the storm and luckily we didn’t have to wait long as the squall completely passed within 45 minutes.

 calling turkeys  turkey hunting under rain fly

             Looking for a good place to set up                         Cozy until the wind started violently whipping tarp

Our strategy for calling turkeys consists of utilizing several different calling methods spaced out by various amounts of time, so began the ritual. As time passed we considered moving locations but we were hunting in relatively open country and didn’t dare risk the possibility of being seen and spooking birds, so we stayed put.

Hours had passed and finally Daxton noticed a group of 5 turkeys silently heading our way. A quick look through the binoculars confirmed that all 5 had bright red heads! We quickly made a plan, hoping to double up. Since the birds were coming from the right and I was on the left, we agreed that my shot would be at the leftmost turkey while Daxton would shoot at any other bird. The situation was coming together perfectly; they were at 80 yards and closing!

Suddenly the lead turkey got excited and started running toward our decoy. He gapped the others by 25 yards and now passed by directly in front of us 15 yards away! A big clump of brush next to Daxton blocked his view of the rightmost turkeys, but my view of them was perfectly clear. I whispered for him to instead shoot the one on the left. Gun raised Daxton began tracking the moving target. However the turkey quickly passed by us to the point where Daxton’s shooting zone wasn’t safe, I was in his way. He said “I can’t shoot, you shoot the left bird.” All of our commotion got the attention of the leftmost tom, he turned on a dime and began sprinting back toward the flock. I tried my best to shoot the sprinting bird but he got away. All the while, Daxton popped up and drilled one of the redheads that stood motionless as they were not quite sure what all the fuss was about.

 packing out turkey over the shoulder  Rio Grande turkey

              Grandson's 2nd tom for the day                                   Daxton with mature Rio Grande

While I was frustrated with my inability to bag a turkey, I was over the moon excited that Daxton got one for himself! Since it would be dark soon, we headed back to camp and headed for home. My next opportunity would have to wait until another day.

Excitement had gotten the best of me, only a couple of days had passed and I was back. It was Thursday morning and I was ready to give it another shot, hopefully vacation days well spent. My confidence was high after having recent success calling in turkeys on two separate occasions just days ago.

 turkey hunting hen decoys 

    Maybe turkeys across ravine didn't like my decoys

To make a long story short, the day had been long and frustrating. On four separate occasions I had toms gobbling back at me but they would not commit. A couple of times the toms hung up at 150 and 130 yards respectively, strutting their stuff but unwilling to advance. I was beyond discouraged and running out of time for the day, my phone showed 6:07 p.m. I decided to change things up by removing my two hen decoys from view. My thought was that the toms were becoming wary when spotting the fakes. And soon I would need to start hiking down off the mountain in order to make it out of the dense oak brush below before it got dark, so it seemed worth a try.

 turkey across the ravine  big mature turkey long beard gobbler

                Another gobbler came to check me out                       Few steps later -- Zoomed in -- he's a nice one

I hadn’t been back to my blind for more than a minute when a gobbler sounded off from across the ravine. I grabbed my binos and spotted the tom proudly strutting 150 yards away – here we go again. This time with no visible decoys present I tried calling on and off for a good 20 minutes but the tom came no closer and eventually faded away into the brush, 6:35 p.m. For nearly 25 more minutes I waited without making a single sound until I was convinced that my hunt was over for the day; it was 6:58 p.m. and would soon be dark. With my last decoy placed in its bag, I pulled the draw string tight. Just then I heard peep behind and to my left. Startled I glanced over my shoulder and saw a long beard 20 yards away! He had sneaked in silently.

 turkey hunting ground blind view 

 Recreated view I had where big tom was almost at barrel length

Slowly I leaned back and slumped to the ground until hidden below my blind. I reached for and grabbed my 12 gauge while lying on my back and gently rolled onto my side. Cautiously I peered around the edge of my blind, somewhat pointing my shotgun in the general direction of the impending shot. The unsuspecting tom was less than 20 yards away! A little adjustment was all that was needed until the red head was in my sights – I slowly squeezed the trigger and the rest is history, I had my bird!

 long beard turkey  turkey hut mature old gobbler

              Mature gobbler with 8 ½ inch beard                                    Snookered the big ol' gobbler

Unbelievable, it all happened as I was giving up for the evening. Since nothing had gone right all day long and I was pressed for time to get off the mountain, I never suspected that a shot opportunity would happen so late in the day -- I couldn’t have been more surprised and was absolutely ecstatic!